As Roxy Music prepare to kick off the UK leg of their reunion tour, the band’s co-founder Andy Mackay has told Rolling Stone UK why the glam-rock icons decided to hit the road again to mark their 50th anniversary.
The band, led by Bryan Ferry, will kick off their UK dates at Glasgow’s OVO Hydro tonight (October 10), before heading to Manchester’s AO Arena and The O2 later this week.
Those shows follow the band’s recent US tour, which has seen them take in venues such as Los Angeles’ The Forum for the first time in their career.
Speaking to Rolling Stone UK, Mackay explained how the prospect of a full reunion tour was first touted when they joined forces to perform at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2019.
“Being voted in was a surprise, and that’s before you learn you can perform at the induction ceremony,” Mackay said.
“But slightly to my surprise, Bryan suggested that we did so with his touring band at the time. We rehearsed in Brooklyn for a few days, which was a bit fraught, but our performance was brilliant. Unexpectedly an offer came in from a North American promoter after that and they were venues that were much bigger than Roxy had played the first time round.”
While admitting that he felt slightly sceptical about the prospect, Mackay was eventually won round when the promoter was able to match the band’s ambitious production demands.
“I was slightly apprehensive about the crowds too and whether they’d be an ‘Avalon’ audience just there for our eighties stuff,” he said.
“But the crowd for the US shows was a real mix, with younger people there to hear the older albums too. That’s why we’re doing a set that covers the whole historical range. It gets difficult when you’ve got so many songs to choose from.”
Sprawling setlist aside, there also remained the issue of getting back on the road after Covid derailed touring for two years, Mackay admits.
“To be honest it was a daunting prospect, especially after Covid when I’d slightly neglected my Sax playing and picked it up for ten minutes a day. But that’s no substitute for six hours of rehearsals and a 90 minute set. I’ve had a few issues with my hands, but the lungs are still working and we’re all really fit,” he says.
“Bryan has been great, there’s a lot of physical pressure on you as a singer but we’ve been very happy with it.”
One person who hasn’t been involved, however, is Brian Eno, who famously left the group in 1973 to become one of alternative music’s most influential and experimental figureheads. While the group still remain on close terms with him, Mackay admits there’s no chance he’ll perform with them again.
“He’s not wanted to revisit that aspect of his career. He’s very nice about it and very positive, but he’s always said no. He’s no longer a performing rock and roll musician, but it would be nice to work with him on something. As far as live shows go though, that’s not going to happen.”
So, could more live dates be on the horizon? “I’d be maybe giving people false expectations,” says Mackay.
“This tour was unique because it came in as a unique offer from a promoter that had a beginning, an end and a budget. We were able to sit down and say yes, we can do the show we want to do with the band we want and we can afford to do it without killing ourselves by travelling on a tour bus! That just isn’t likely to happen any more very much.”